Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Teaching and pre-teaching

I may be getting better, but my second class resumed last week, and teaching both classes seems to distract me thoroughly.

Today I taught the Black Death. Students always get into this topic, sometimes with a level of glee which is slightly disturbing if you think about it. I raised the theory of some scholars that the Black Death was not actually the same disease as modern bubonic plague. This sparked a discussion which was lively, if somewhat ill-informed (none of us being really qualified to deal with some of the medical / biological ramifications of that issue).

I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about next year's courses. in some ways this seems premature, since I won't start teaching them until September. I keep telling myself that it makes some sense, though--there will come a point when my time is thoroughly taken up with logistics related to moving. That's not the case now, and if I have some pre-class preparation done, I won't have to try to do it while packing / moving / unpacking and so forth.


AndrewMc said...

Which "alternate" diseases did you discuss? I saw an interesting essay and conference paper on the idea that it may have been a form of syphilis.

clio's disciple said...

Both anthrax and influenza came up. I hadn't encountered syphilis as a theory, thanks!

Some students got surprisingly heated in their defense of Y. pestis as the pathogen, though. I couldn't quite make out why they cared that much.

Rea P said...

There is a very informative slim volume about the plague in Scotland in the 14th century (Scotland's Black Death is the title iirc). The author looked at the accounts of the spread of the disease and applied epidemiology - she thinks in Scotland it may have been pneumonic plague, rather than bubonic.

(historical epidemiology, while nowhere near what I do, is still great fun to read)